Report on the National Agrarian Strike

(Translated by Rolf Schöneborn, a CSN Volunteer Translator)

Fraternal Greetings!

This is to inform you of the ongoing dialogue and negotiations with the Colombian national government.
We ask you to discuss the following issues and proceedings of the Peoples’ Congress in your respective communities and all activists concerned.

The spokesperson of the Peoples’ Congress at the Agrarian Summit


General Report on Day Six of the General Strike

With the political decision for a united effort, twelve of Colombia’s most important popular agrarian organizations decide on an Agrarian Summit with the Peoples` Congress being one of the most active driving force in making this Summit possible.

The organizations involved in the Summit in March of last year called on the Colombian people to continue with the agrarian strike given that there is no hope that the crisis of the agrarian sector in the country might end and the various roundtables have not made any substantial progress; the Agrarian Summit presented a final document to the government which calls for a new agrarian reform, including land use to end poverty and marginalization which the Colombian people have historically suffered from, especially those in rural areas. In addition the final paper also asks for a broad spectrum of rights and especially for a voice on the road to peace.

On March 30 of last year the Colombian President was given a unified set of petitions in order to initiate a dialogue with the national government. Last April 11 President Santos called for a meeting with the Political Commission of the Agrarian Summit, which presented he following objectives:

a- To view positioning efforts as a social and political process in order to come up with fundamental proposals for the Colombian countryside.

b- To maintain a unified approach to petitioning processes.

c- To insist on a single national negotiation roundtable.

d- To propose basic ideas prior to the negotiation process and demand the
right to strike.

Given these requests the national government accepts a single roundtable to be constituted and asks the Minister of the Interior Aurelio Iragorry to initiate dialogues and negotiations. This was followed by two meetings, where the political commission of the Agrarian Summit started working on agreed-upon proposals for a presidential decree which would be in keeping with the character of the established roundtable, the method of work, the roundtable composition, the work agenda, political and logistical guarantees as well as follow-up work were considered. And it was hoped that the agreements to be found by the roundtable be in accordance with community requirements.
The unanimous decision on last April 28 to go on strike, thousands of campesinos and campesinas took to the streets and highways in Colombia claiming their rights and thus trying to improve their chances at the negotiating table with the national government. Some rural agrarian dignitaries decided to go on strike on that very day also.

The Santos government up to this point has not kept its word in regard to the popular mobilization and there have been quite a number of human rights violations committed by police forces not only at points of assembly but also on the way to the target areas.

But the dialogue has continued and the Summit Political Commission has been able to make structural improvements and thus make progress in its negotiations with the government.

1. Protection of community mobilizations. Dialogues regarding protective measures for future community mobilizations have been initiated, permanent human rights violations have been reported to the government as well as the civil protection agencies, to the media and to the relevant newsletters and journals. The constitution of a human rights commission has been approved by the Summit delegates and the government as well as the development of a plan for community protection.

At this point there is also a subcommission working on the question of guarantees and liaison mechanisms between the Colombian government and the Summit. Protective measures are of special concern of the Peoples’ Congress and reports on human rights violations in addition to the ongoing dialogues are the domain of our spokesperson and the human rights commission.

2. Agenda of discussions and negotiations. Three thematic blocks have been defined at the meetings with the government, which are to deal with the following basic issues.
a- Guarantees
b- Regulations of land use
c- Economics

There are two aspects to the question of economics: the creation of an economic investment fund for indigenous and Afro-Colombian women and secondly a push for substitution projects for illicit crops.

3. Presidential decree. The government and the Summit have established a mixed commission to prepare the presidential decree for which a consensus on content has already been achieved, but the president’s signature still needs to be appended.

Monday of next week the mixed team of lawyers will present the final version of the decree to be signed by the president.

Negotiations regarding the economic investment fund for indigenous and Afro-Colombian campesinas will begin on Tuesday.

Strengthening of our social movement

Up to this point the Peoples’ Congress has gotten a positive response based upon the issues outlined above from the following Colombian departments: Bolívar, Cesar, Santander, Norte de Santander, Arauca, Casanare, Boyacá, Antioquia and Huila. There have also been supportive actions in different cities and various universities.

We call on the other Colombian departments to join the strike increase pressure to move forward with the negotiations for better community benefit agreements (CBA).

Strike and Advance (A Parar para Avanzar), Long live the people’s agrarian strike!

The spokesperson for the Peoples’ Congress at the Agrarian Summit (Cumbre Agraria, Campesina, Ètnica y Popular),

Marylyn Serna

(This translation may be reprinted as long as its content remains unaltered and the source, author and translator are cited.)

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